Louisa Swain Federal Office Building
The Cheyenne League of Women Voters participated in the renaming ceremony of the 1932 federal building in Cheyenne to the Louisa Swain Federal Office Building. It honors of the first woman in the world to cast a ballot in an election on Sept. 6, 1870, giving her equal rights as men.
At the ceremony on Oct. 17, the League distributed commemorative coins with Swain’s image.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., who was the driving force in the passage of public law 117-120 to rename the building at 308 W. 21st St., traced Swain’s journey from an orphanage in Charleston, S.C., to her settlement in Laramie to her death in Maryland. Swain “was specifically chosen to cast the first vote because she was an upstanding woman,” Lummis explained, “and because the women in Laramie knew it was a historic event.”
Leigh Anne Bunetta, regional counsel for the Rocky Mountain region of the General Services Administration, noted the Neoclassical-style structure was part of its small inventory of historic buildings. But she surprised the audience when she said it was the only federal building in Colorado, Montana, North and South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming that was named for a woman. The building, designed by noted Cheyenne architect William Dubois, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
Wyoming Women of Influence
Two members and officers of the Cheyenne League of Women Voters were honored at the Wyoming Women of Influence luncheon October 13 in Cheyenne. CLWV President Mary Guthrie, left, received the “lifetime achievement” award for her work as a lawyer as well as a community volunteer. Dr. Keren Meister-Emerich, CLWV vice president, was recognized as a nominee in the nonprofit category for her League work from 2020-22 providing voter information through hosting Zoom candidate forums and posting to Facebook the videos, which attracted thousands of views. (Photo by Rosalind Schliske)
2022 Candidate Forums are available at the Cheyenne League Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100069246692477
6th Penny Propositions Explained
The Cheyenne League of Women Voters reported more than 3,500 views of its 14 informational videos created to educate Laramie County voters about the sixth penny propositions on the November ballot.
State law allows counties in cooperation with cities and towns to fund specific project through a voluntary sales tax. If approved, this sales tax would begin on April 1, 2022, and would stop when the specific amount is collected. The county has used this 1 percent specific purpose sales and use tax since 1986.
Only one of the 14 propositions, which would have provided $2 million to construct a multicourt gymnasium and gymnastics facility, failed by 112 votes in a recount. It also received the most views of 718. A proposition to ensure guaranteed minimum revenue for the Cheyenne Regional Airport received the second highest viewership of 353 but won by 88 votes in a recount.
Laramie County Clerk Debra Lee, who is also a member of the Cheyenne LWV, said 13,346 residents voted or 29.5 percent of those registered.
Dr. Mark Rinne, representing the Cheyenne City Council, and Gunnar Malm, representing the Laramie County Commission, explained the propositions, which fall broadly into four categories: public safety, roads, infrastructure, and community enhancements.
Rosalind Schliske, secretary of the Cheyenne League, who moderated the discussion, said, “Each video focuses on a different proposition so that voters can watch all or just the ones for which they need more information.”
In addition, Dr. Keren Meister-Emerich, vice president of the Cheyenne League and Zoom master for the videos, interviewed Malm on how the ballot propositions were developed and what percentage of revenue raised is directed toward communities and county projects.
The videos can be seen on the Cheyenne League’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100069246692477 or the Cheyenne LWV’s YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/CLWV-YouTube.
A League of Her Own premieres new play at Morris house plaque dedication
A League of Her Own acting troupe, sponsored by the Cheyenne League of Women Voters, was featured at a dedication of a plaque marking the Cheyenne home of Esther Hobart Morris on August 9, 2021. The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office in conjunction with the Governor’s Council for Women’s Suffrage Celebrations, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and the National Collaboration of Women’s Historic Sites sponsored the dedication at the Morris house, 2114 Warren Avenue.
The ceremony dedicated the first Wyoming marker on the National Votes for Women Trail (NVWT). Nationally, the Pomeroy Foundation has funded 250 historic roadside markers. Morris came to South Pass City, a gold mining camp in Wyoming Territory in 1869, and was the first woman justice of the peace in Wyoming and the nation. Throughout her life she supported the antislavery movement, suffrage and equal right for women.
“The NVWT intends to both identify the many sites that were integral to the suffrage movement and make them accessible on a mobile friendly website to be easily searched by location, suffragist, and a variety of other useful criteria,” the NVWT website explained. “Our ultimate objective is to show how social change occurs, to honor the suffrage movement’s countless participants, and to inspire future generations to treasure their right to vote.”
Organized in 2019 to mark the 150th anniversary of Wyoming granting women the right to vote, A League of Her Own has performed its play “Wonderful Wyoming Women Voters” numerous times. In 2020, the played earned first place in the fine arts category of the Wyoming State Historical Society’s statewide awards contest. For the 2021 event, the troupe wrote a new script focusing on Esther Hobart Morris called “An Afternoon with Esther.” All the characters in the original play knew Esther, played by Denise Burke: Julia Bright, of South Pass City, played by Rosalind Schliske; Theresa Jenkins, of Cheyenne, played by Debra Lee, and Amalia Post, of Cheyenne, played by Mary Guthrie. The narrator, played by Keren Meister Emerich, guides the characters in reminisces about Esther.
The Morris house, now owned by John and Maria Kopper, had been purchased in the early 1880s by Esther’s son Archie for his mother. From her window, she could see the Capitol, where in 1890 she would present Governor Francis E. Warren with the first statehood flag on behalf of the women of Wyoming. She died on April 2, 1902, and is interred at Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne. The Troupe dedicated its performance in memory of Bill Dubois, Esther Hobart Morris’ great-great-grandson, who died July 1, 2021, in Cheyenne.